I recently read the book, The Other Side of Desire, by Daniel Bergner. In it, Bergner describes “four journeys into the far realms of lust and longing”. This book is not for everyone. Bergner explores the lives of a pedophiliac, a sadist and others who have erotic tastes that are outside of the norm. Though many parts of the book were difficult for me to read, the research Bergner included was fascinating.
Bergner visits the sexologist Paul Federoff when he is investigating the life of a pedophile. I found the inclusion of Federoff’s theories really interesting. “Lust, Federoff believed, was analogous to language. People are born without language, he said, but with a genetic makeup that allows them to acquire and express any of the languages that exist in the world. And the language they end up speaking is determined by who they’re raised by. At about the age of two their mother tongue is set, so that even though a person can learn new languages the fact is there’s a basic hardwired one. Even with people who are multilingual, if you ask, what their mother tongue is, they can tell you. And if they can’t, if they say, I speak these languages equally well, and you ask, when you calculate numbers in your head what language do you use? There will be one answer. It was similar with sexuality. Infinite possibilities narrowed early on” Federoff continues by saying, “desire was shaped by all sorts of factors biological and experiential, weighted differently in different people.”
I think Federoff proposes an interesting theory. I think it is a bit of a mystery how one’s desire is formed. The book is an unusual look into desire in all its manifestations. I think it is an expansive read which is always worthwhile.